Important Parish Updates
In the evolving Coronavirus pandemic, we trust that our loving, long-suffering, all-merciful Lord is at work in ways we cannot fully appreciate, and in more visible ways through the cooperation of medical professionals, public officials, spiritual leaders, and all those who work sacrificially for the greater good.
Following the directives of the government and Archdiocese, our suspension of all parish ministries – including worship – is not from fear but from love in an effort to curb contagion and protect the most vulnerable. The church building is closed and locked. As of now, we’re available by phone 10 am – 4 pm; please call or email if we can be of any assistance to you.
We’re working toward the possibility of livestreaming worship, including Sunday Liturgy and Lenten services throughout the week. In the meantime, livestream is available here: https://www.goarch.org/live-broadcasts.
That said, “the home is a little Church” (St. John Chrysostom). As Christians, our rhythm and intuitive response to everything in life should be prayer: a simple, honest openness to God; a standing before Him; a relentless pursuit of Him. To limit the Church to four physical walls is a gross misunderstanding and reduction. Part of our prayerful stance before God should be grounded in a discipline or ‘rule of prayer'. If we’re not accustomed to praying at home individually or as a family, let’s begin now. A few suggestions:
- Have a designated place of prayer. Use icons, a vigil candle, and incense.
- Read slowly and attentively the Lenten Prayer of St. Ephrem each morning and evening, making a prostration after each verse. Attempt to live the prayer throughout the day.
- If you have an Orthodox prayer book, follow the prescribed morning and evening prayers.
- I highly recommend Great Compline each evening, which is available at www.agesinitiatives.com. If you have young children, abbreviate the service with selections from the Psalm readings, hymns, and other prayers.
- Spend 5 minutes each day repeating the Jesus Prayer in quietude, both for yourself ("Lord Jesus Christ, have mercy on me") and for all those affected by the Coronavirus ("Lord Jesus Christ, have mercy on Your people").
School cancellations are a reminder that parents are the primary teachers in society. Take advantage of this opportunity at home with your children. Pray; play; go outside and teach about spring in a ‘hands-on’ manner; use other activities to give a sense of structure to the day.
In addition to prayer and willing sacrifice adapted to varied circumstances (in this case, the sacrifice of self-imposed isolation), the Church actively searches out any unmet needs with a compassionate heart. To this end, Philoptochos and the Parish Council are deliberating about how to help. There are elderly and otherwise compromised folks who may have unmet needs. Many such people have family members or friends in the area aware of their situations, but some may not have this luxury. If you are such a person, or if you are aware of any such people, please let us know by responding to this email or calling the church office. We can assist with things like grocery delivery, prescriptions, medical appointments, etc.
In the greater Grand Rapids area, our HOPE/JOY has reached out and delivered food to Kids Food Basket. A special ‘thank you’ to Vasiliki Christopoulos for spearheading this effort. Kids Food Basket (https://www.kidsfoodbasket.org) and other local charities have heightened needs right now, and we encourage you to consider helping as individuals or families. If you have any ideas for how the Church can help, we’re open to your suggestions.
The Parish Council and other leaders in our community will continue to carefully monitor all developments and respond to changing variables. We will keep you advised of any updates.
We trust entirely in God’s saving power and presence, which has already conquered sin and all its manifestations, including disease and even death itself. We look to Him in confidence, patience, and prayer.
I will continue with most scheduled pastoral visits, both to homes and hospitals. If you would like to schedule a pastoral visit, please email me or call the church office.
Please communicate this information to those who might not have access to it.
With love in Christ,